Tag: Libertarianism

I was Tortured and Killed for Wrong Think

Well, not really, but I survived a totalitarian regime

If you listen to only one Joe Rogan Experience episode, make it episode 1639, Dave Smith. It came out last Friday. It’s three hours long. I’ve listened to 2.5 hours (out of three hours).

Smith is a comic and a libertarian. He also has a podcast (that, for some reason, I can’t warm up to).

But I definitely warmed up to this episode with Rogan. They covered an array of matters, with Dave Smith channeling Murray Rothbard, Tom Woods Scott Horton, and other alternative thinkers.

The COVID discussion was really good. At minute 33:48, Smith pointed out something I hadn’t thought of: We lived under totalitarianism in 2020, at least those of us who live in a blue state.

Now, it may have been good totalitarianism. It may have been necessary totalitarianism. It was “soft” totalitarianism (no one was arrested, tortured, and killed).

But it was totalitarianism: suspension of the Bill of Rights; governors ruling by fiat, often with apparent whimsy; rulers playing by a different set of rules; heavy propaganda, groupthink, and censorship (by private corporations with ties to government). Everything you’d expect from totalitarianism, we had here in 2020.

This doesn’t mean it was bad, incidentally. It simply means many of us lived under totalitarianism. The choices were (supposedly): die of COVID or live under totalitarianism. Okay. Given those options, I choose totalitarianism. Many of us did. Just because it was totalitarian doesn’t mean it was wrong. It just means it was bad, but not necessarily as bad as the alternative (dying of COVID).

Of course, we now know those weren’t really the only options (“false dichotomy”) and the COVID risk was way overblown, but still, reasonable people can disagree (though increasingly I’m abandoning that position, as the vaccine … Read the rest

I Almost Became an Anarchist

A mini-review of The Essential Rothbard by David Gordon.

Murray Rothbard almost made me an anarchist.

I had read some of Rothbard’s stuff and had delved into various areas of anarchist thought (mostly through this this somewhat difficult, very thick, often fascinating volume). I’ve abandoned such notions, but my six-month foray was worth it. The anarchists make you ask questions that every person concerned about things public (the republic) should ask: What is the origin of government? How exactly do wars happen? How can a country surrender in a war if it has no government? If the State exists by violence–actual or the threat of–does that tend to make society more violent?

I’ve come to view Rothbard as a great economist, a good historian, and an amateur but unique philosopher. He has his flaws (he tends to indulge in false dichotomies), but he raises questions that the American people ought to ask a lot more frequently.

Gordon’s volume is a great place to start.

Oh, and why didn’t I become an anarchist? Simply because of natural law. We desire to live among others, either for self-preservation or because we are social animals. Once we come together, a hierarchy will naturally develop and from there, government will form.

Anarchism, simply put, isn’t natural.

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Libertarian and Conservative to Cuff One Another on Live Video

In this threatening age of The Great Reset and leftist rage at four years of Trump, the debate between conservatives and libertarians seems almost quaint. It would be like Great Britain and Ireland fighting over Belfast as a huge armada of Muslim Vikings starts to land.

Still, the debate is real. The two sides have so much in common (channel F.A. Hayek) and yet stand so far apart (channel Ayn Rand).

It’s a debate (more of a discussion, I think) that has long fascinated me, in part because I consider myself conservative and libertarian, which I’ve been assured is like thinking Belfast ought to be Catholic and Protestant. I’m not even sure how different the two sides are anymore. In a better world, the differences are real, but in today’s world of the most powerful western governments ever?

I’m just not sure the differences are significant.

But the differences are still worth exploring, just like I spend hours exploring the lines between anarchism and libertarianism, even though neither is going to exist any time soon (barring a nuclear war).

If you’re interested in the subject, I recommend an upcoming debate:

  • Prof. Nathan Schlueter, Hillsdale College
  • Prof. Nikolai Wenzel, Fayetteville State University
  • Mediator: Hon. Elizabeth L. Branch, United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

My friend Nathan Schlueter will be taking the conservative side. His friend, Nikolai Wenzel, will be taking the libertarian side.

It’s this coming Friday at 8:00 PM.

Odd day and time, that, but I plan on settling in with a large gin and tonic to enjoy the exchange.

Reference: Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?: The Foundations of the Libertarian-Conservative DebateRead the rest

The Minotaur: Five Short Lessons About the Modern State

Revisiting de Jouvenel’s 1945 classic, On Power

“the spirit of domination never slumbers”

An ambitious first 100 days is upon us.

It would be a great time revisit Bertrand de Jouvenel’s 1945 classic, On Power.

Progressive to . . . Something Else

Bertrand de Jouvenel was born in 1903 to an aristocratic family that embraced the “progressive” mores of the day. His parents divorced. His father married the famous novelist Colette in 1912. In 1920, de Jouvenel and Colette started an affair (de Jouvenel was just 16), which became a public scandal and (understandably) ended his father’s marriage.

In de Jouvenel, we aren’t dealing with a stodgy member of the bourgeois. 

De Jouvenel was taught to view progress as inevitable, which was the accepted paradigm in those halcyon days of the early 1900s.

World War I shattered that paradigm. No longer was history viewed as constant progress.

De Jouvenel struggled with different political philosophies. In his twenties, he embraced a modified concept of laissez-faire political economy. In his thirties (which coincided with the 1930s and the Great Depression), he concluded that the market economy had failed miserably, but didn’t embrace the Communism or Fascism that became the fashionable theories of the day.

When the Germans occupied France, de Jouvenel pretended to support the Vichy government but secretly joined the Resistance. When he learned that the Nazis had become aware of it, he and his wife fled to Switzerland.

In Switzerland, he researched and wrote On Power, which was his attempt to explain the rise of the modern state. By understanding how the modern state arose, he hoped readers would understand why the modern state is a problem.

He would later use On Power as a launching point to explore how government could work better for the common good. … Read the rest

What’s That Twitter Imp Up To?

Is Jack Dorsey looking to a Bitcoin (libertarian) Internet model?

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t much bugged by Twitter deplatforming President Trump. I didn’t think it was cool, and it bothered me that a company displays such brazen arrogance, but I agree with the ACLU’s ultra-liberal Ira Glasser, who said a President always has plenty of speaking outlets.

I was uber-bugged—outraged, in fact—when Amazon killed Parler’s access to the Internet altogether and, if antitrust laws mean anything, Amazon should be facing severe scrutiny in this regard.

But Twitter? I was just annoyed and, of course, I’ve long been frustrated by Twitter’s ongoing and disingenuous Leftist agenda: “We’re just neutral content hosts. We don’t favor either side, but we do enforce a certain narrative because that narrative is true, so we block other narratives because they’re false.” (Nevermind that in the philosophical field of “narratives,” the premise is that none of them are true.)

But overall? I wasn’t outraged by Twitter’s decision.

What We Know about Dorsey

Jack Dorsey is to blame, of course, but let’s acknowledge a few things about Dorsey:

1. He founded Twitter 14 years ago. It now has 4,600 employees and 321 million users. That’s shocking growth. Dorsey can’t entirely control that company as a practical matter, and he can’t control it as a legal matter since he’s a minority stockholder.

2. He is presumably surrounded by Leftists, many of them far Left.

3. He himself was raised Catholic and his uncle is a priest.

4. He supported Tulsi Gabbard (my favorite candidate) in 2020.

5. He also supported Andrew Yang (my second favorite candidate, but far behind Tulsi because of his troublesome trademark (the universal income)). Based on Wikipedia, those are the only two he supported in the primaries.

6. He is a huge … Read the rest

California was a Hot Bed of Libertarianism

Given the ideological condition of the Golden State today, it must’ve been the most-failed ideological movement in history

low angle photography of brown building with los angeles led sign
Photo by Giovanni Calia on Pexels.com

My opinion of Gavin Newsom, Eric Garcetti, and other imbecilic politicians in California is strongly colored by Joe Rogan, who has an extremely low opinion of them. So whereas I view those politicians as megalomaniac frauds with low IQs, a person without the Rogan skew might just view them as megalomaniacs with low IQs.

I respect that.

Nowadays, when I hear “California,” I think, “beautiful land of sun and chains.”

It didn’t use to be that way. In fact, I just learned that LA and southern California in general used to be a hot-bed of libertarian activity, so much so that New Yorker Murray Rothbard moved to California in the late 1970s.

The following is lifted from Jeff Riggenbach’s Libertarian Tradition.

When I arrived in LA in 1972 . . . there was a restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills called — believe it or not — the Eater’s Digest, which reputedly belonged to a Galambosian, who made it available for libertarian meetings once or twice a month during evening hours when the restaurant was closed (the Eater’s Digest didn’t serve dinner, just breakfast and lunch). Harry Browne was on the New York Times bestseller list, Andrew J. Galambos was still giving his mysterious lectures under the auspices of his mysterious company, the Free Enterprise Institute.

There was Objectivist activity in LA in the early seventies as well. Ayn Rand was still in New York, but Barbara Branden was in LA, running Academic Associates out of an office on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Up the hill, on Sunset Boulevard, Nathaniel Branden and Roger Callahan were practicing psychotherapy with Objectivist overtones.

Robert LeFevre was … Read the rest

Thaddeus Russell on His Way to Rome?

Alright, that headline is a gross exaggeration.

It’s downright clickbait, in fact. Clickbait for nerds, yes, but still clickbait.

But you’re going to be happy you clicked on it if you’re a Catholic libertarian.

Tom Woods recently appeared on Russell’s “Unregistered” podcast. The whole thing is enjoyable, but they get into libertarianism and Catholicism in the second half of it, starting shortly after the one-hour mark.

In the course of it, you’ll hear Tom Woods explain:

how Anarcho-Capitalism is steeped in natural law, with norms that transcend culture (with Russell dissenting . . . claiming there are no such norms . .  . which is his postmodern wont),

why the Latin Mass is important (with Russell agreeing . . . noting the modern Mass isn’t even Catholic, based on his outsider perspective),

why Anthony Esolen is great (with Russell agreeing),

why he’s Catholic . . . with Russell declaring, if he were going to become religious, he would definitely join the Catholic Church.

That’s the closest Russell came to declaring any intent of converting, so, yes, my headline is “clickbaity.”

But notable conversions in our history have started with a whole lot less. Most converts don’t come into the Church through a Saul/Paul moment. The journey starts with something little like that.

I disagree with Russell on many things, but I generally find him intellectually honest and a man of good will.

And more importantly, he realizes, like Chesterton pointed out, only dead things swim with the stream. Like any good Catholic, he’s vibrantly fighting against the modern stream all the time. He’s fighting it with postmodernist weapons, but he’s fighting it all the same.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that, if you combine his distaste for modernity and his obvious respect for the Catholic Church … Read the rest

The Two Political Parties Born in the Same Womb?

Two main kinds of people fled Europe to live in North America in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries: individualists who sought freedom from the political interference they were accustomed to dealing with in Europe; and religious zealots who sought to create and maintain a puritan theocracy on these shores without interference from the selfsame European political authorities who were interfering with the individualists. Some colonists wanted a society in which no one could impose his or her creed on anyone else; other colonists wanted a society in which they could impose their own creed on everyone else. Both the individualists and the puritans can legitimately lay claim to an authentic American pedigree for their creeds.

Jeff Riggenbach, The Libertarian Tradition (Kindle version just $2.99 . . . a steal)
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